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Les Semaines

01.08.05

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout

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It's Done and Moving On

So Clarion is over, ended, done for the year. We had a workshop-end board meeting Sunday, where we talked about everything and wrapped most things up and put a period to the long, complex sentence that was this year's workshop. And me? I'm tired. I've slept a lot this week. I've been trying to be easy on myself (something I know I'm good at, at least) and get healthy (I still have two nagging little infections that don't seem to want to go away).

So this was a quiet week, where I worked around the house and did a little writing and a lot of reading and basically caught up with myself by starting to answer the mound of email that has been awaiting a spare moment and working on The Ectophiles' Guide, adding new albums for artists, sending out the discs that have piled up for review, sending back some inappropriate discs that have come in...

Did things like going out for sushi with friends, renting a movie, sleeping in until 9:00 each morning...heaven for someone who is a nightowl like me.

Did a bit of gardening, mostly deadheading the roses so they will continue to make glorious blooms.

Played with Sophia, made a lap for Zach. All the important things.

Started to continue reorganizing/cleaning/filing in my study, and polished the silver (seriously) and cleaned the house for Mom's visit.

The weather has been really changeable: the days almost always start gray and wind up sunny and hot for at least part of the time. Tonight at dinnertime (Jim was barbecuing) it started a serious and welcome downpour. I should have known if we started barbecuing it would bring on the rain. Luckily, we have a bit of an overhang by the back door to give the barbecue some cover.

And today we picked up my mom at the Victoria Clipper. She has come for a few days, taking a vacation from her life and leaving Dad and the dogs behind. She comes here to rest up and she really does. She only arrived this afternoon and already she's had a long nap and is about ready to go to bed.

Very relaxed and fun.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing

Listening

Obsessed with Astrid for some reason this week. She's a raspy-voiced singer from the Shetlands, originally, and I first discovered her when she was in a group called Goya Dress which I also adored. Thinking person's pop. And damn catchy.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

I adored Connie Willis' Passage, a novel about a psychologist who teams together with a medical researcher (avoiding a mystical reinterpreter of these events) to study near-death experiences. This is my favourite Connie Willis yet (I've previously only read Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, both of which I liked but didn't love). But Passage was amazing--as far as I'm concerned, it's a WOW. One of those books that is carefully woven and yet doesn't feel overconstructed, and it ends in a way that made me think. Delightful and highly recommended.

Rumer Godden's In This House of Brede is about a monastery of Benedictine nuns, and the events in their house over a span of years in the early 60s. It begins as their Abbess dies and a new one must be elected to take her place, when a young and vibrant novice decides to leave and a middle-aged widow is making her adjustments to her new life in the order. It's a gentle but also dramatic book, with wonderful insight into characters and their interactions with each other. It's very different from China Court (commented on in my July 15th entry) but it also reminds me of it. Rumer Godden has a gentle love for her characters and is also able to depict a variety of them interacting in fascinating ways.

Aiden Beaverson's The Hidden Arrow of Maether is a young adult fantasy about a young girl who runs away from her abusive, stepfather who is part of a religion that worships a demon. She herself is part of the religion of the Great One, and once she escapes an injury her stepfather has given her begins to look like an arrow--so is she the legendary "Hidden Arrow" that will destroy the demon? Now all of the demon's people are looking for her but the Great One is looking after her.... The deck is so stacked in this: the evil demon and the Great One, and a main character whose only actions are to run (but only when paths are spread out for her) make this a truly disappointing read. I wanted to like it.

Neil Gaiman's American Gods is getting a huge push as a book likely to get him some mainstream appeal and sell more than to his growing, devoted fanbase and the people who generally like this kind of fantasy. It's getting lots of good press, too, as far as I can tell. I'm a little surprised, as the book really didn't do that much for me. I mean, it held my interest, but it felt kind of pedestrian, with none of the magic and lilt that some of Gaiman's previous books have had for me while emphasizing this adolescent boy flavour that previous books have had. It's hard for me to explain what that is, but it's something to do with how the only characters that really come to life in the novels are these unformed men, and the view of women is pretty one-dimensional--which does make sense as it's filtered through these unformed men, but it still niggles at me. This is the story of Shadow, a man getting out of prison, and just days before that, his wife is killed. On his release he finds himself pursued by a Wednesday, who keeps offering him a job and finally Shadow finds he has few other options. Little does he know he's about to become a pawn in a battle between old and new gods in America. And America isn't a good place for gods....

While Neverwhere isn't as well put-together as this book, I certainly prefer it. And probably above that I prefer Stardust, which has plenty of that lilt.

Ursula K. LeGuin's Tales from Earthsea is a delight for anyone not close-minded about what can be Earthsea and what cannot. These stories are beautifully written and drew me in just like the magic of the first Trilogy (but then, I'm also someone who loved Tehanu, in and of itself). These are storis about people who dramatically affected Earthsea history and those who did not. There's a tale about the founding of Roke, the school for wizards, and a tale about a humble man who could have chosen Roke but did not. I loved each and every one of these for the flavour LeGuin imparts, for the love she clearly has for this world she has created. These are full of wonder.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

New poem this week for my poetry workshop (wher it went over quite well) about Calanais (Callanish), one of the most amazing standing stone sites ever. And the poem is even in the shape of the plan for the site. That was fun. I suppose I'll leave it in that shape in revisions.

I worked a very little on Bryony's Needle this week, starting to get the next chapter reading for the workshop, but I also opened up the file that is the most recent chapter for Gypsy Davey because I was compelled to add something there.

Yes, things are gearing up again.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

February 1980

1118. The form of a poem I                                                                        February 13, 1980

3 x 5 line stanzas--each line 5 syllables.

     TODAY'S FEATURE
     Sunday offers a
     drab day cold with wind
     that chills even the
     pages as I write
     and freezes the ink.

     The fog seeps through doors
     into me, and its
     grizzled face stars back
     at me in my own
     reflection today.

     Its hand inside me
     carves a great hollow
     in my chest, its voice
     passes to the white
     page. Its words freeze there. [1]

Done in a massive hurry, in an hour to write two of these. I had to make up my form for Robin, hopefully something that would teach me something. I thought I may be getting wordy recently so I thought I would head back and grab a short idea and make a short form. So I looked backwards in my journal and I found a short idea and then Ithought of my form and I filled it in. And now for the other:

1119. The form of a poem II

     DAYS OF THE SAME

     This whole month is a
     station in which I
     reted between two
     journeys, the place where
     it all is the same.

     At the same time it
     is the rail car, it
     carried me through
     time, taking me far
     from where I started

     It's something about
     all the days and the
     travel, and moving
     so swiftly that all
     the miles fade away.

So this is the second, that says and does something, that tries to do something, and that is something different. I tried to do different things today and I only felt lost. I tried to fit in with the group and felt loster 'cuz I couldn't tie in with group feeling, there were too many individuals there, busy feeling such different things. So, I went eventually home where I felt nothing for the rest of the evening.

1120. Val-times                                                                              February 14th 1980

Today I worked, and a box of boutonnières came for the Valentinos of Gillain, for all the men. It was a fun day. When I turned around I found a new plant on the desk, and it was nice to have something growing trhere, rather than flowers dying, or dried flowers, dead.
     Rather quite a quite quiet day, though not at work. Busy, Busy, busy was quite that day at work. I ended up by staying an extra hours, swallowed up by all the quite busy and accomplishing nothing, quite.
     One of those days that I function through, and am kept busy by functioning. Busy being busy until I go home, and no longer have to function. Then I'm busy being nothing. Both thinking and doing nothing. I find that these are the times when I no longer exist. I am a thing that function more or less efficiently (at work) then rests, and functions as a nothing. (Or simpley--does not function.)
     My moomy and daddy loved me a Valentine, but no one else did. (All alone and lonely.) I am enjoyin being emotionally bondless, but O those dreams.

1121. Terry & John's Reading                                                                        February 15th 1980

So Terry and John gave a reading together at the Haunted Bookshop. Yes, they read and were together, John and Terry. John read his poems, which are getting better and better all the time. Terry read her short stories, and part of her novella, which appears to me, though I'm not certain that it's great--good anyway, and well written. Terry says she has only written one poem (Valentine's, to John) in a year--the year that she and John have known each other. John has been writing better poems, and she has been writing only prose. Strange that...or not so strange at all.
     The room was full of people, most of whgome I didn't know until I got there, some of whom I knew. I introduced Harold to John & Doug Beardsley, and they both made a fuss over him, which broke my heart. I didn't feel like drinking and everyone else was, so I was alone.
     I have never felt such a despiar of myself, such a fear that I will never become anything--such a fear that I will alaways be alone. I couldn't rationalize it away, coudln't swallow it--I have never been so swallowed in my life--felt like something so intrinsic to myself had been taken from me, like half my life was stolen. I felt despair--and fell asleep with it, woke up in the morning with it and haven't shaken it yet.

1122, A day slept in                                                                        February 16th 1980

Slept late, and woke up with despair. Hurry to get to Gillain for a two-hour shift as registrar for a seminar. Hectic, but incredibly brief.
     Then I went to talk to Harold, to hear what is happening in the universe, to hear what the world is, and what I am in it, to hear that my poems will save me from my despair. He read me his poems, and we talked about them. And we talked about how time moves in blocks of light, of memory hazing in fron of those mountians of his. How in darkness, real darkness, not the kind you get in cities, is not the absence of light, but has spots of light in it. How the wind moves in the valley so differently from the sea wind here, about the lightning and how it divides the darkness.
     We talked about how watching a sunrise is watching 3 sunrises, the splitting of the present in the light and you see now and memory, the memory being all the sunrises you have ever seen, and all those you will ever see. [2]
     Today I slept in, it was a day slept in and part nightmare and part dream--an infinity dream.


NOTES

1. Well, that was clearly an exercise and not a poem, wasn't it? But I've used that form may many more times over the years and still do, and it has served me well.

2. I wrote a poem about that conversation, named it "Similkameen" and dedicated it to Harold and Diane. It appears in Seven Robins.

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